Despite knowing it was named after my goofball friend Leonard, I’ve always had respect for the Soggy Bottom’s Leonardo Award and the riders who receive it.
Each year, Carlos—the Soggiest event organizer I know—gives the Leonardo to someone who guts out a tough ride, overcomes obstacles, or shows admirable determination in pursuit of his or her goal.
The award was inspired by Leonard's infamous ride in the early days of the Soggy Bottom, when he suffered immensely and passed out beside the trail a few times, but refused to quit. He finished despite taking more than 24 hours to do so.
During last weekend’s post-Soggy Bottom party at the Snow Goose Restaurant, Leonard himself presented the 2011 Leonardo award to Oscar The Grouch and me for voluntarily pedaling into hellish conditions for our drenched, bear-infested, course-sweeping ride.
Carlos had flasks engraved for the occasion, which was very classy. Thanks, Carlos.
Given the caliber of riders who line up at the start every year, it’s a humbling thing to be given any award related to the Soggy Bottom. Others rode farther and suffered more. Oscar and I just went out and did the job we promised to do. The same kind of job others have done for us.
Any mountain biker who has benefited from the efforts of volunteers should take a turn pitching in from time to time. You don’t do that kind of stuff because you expect recognition for it. Hearing the word “thanks” and maybe being handed a cold beer at the end of the day is about all you expect, and that’s the way it should be.
But when people think you’ve given a lot, and choose to recognize you for it, that feels pretty good. And it says something about them, too.